Pfizer Inc says it plans to meet with top U.S. health officials on Monday to discuss the potential federal authorization of a third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine.
The meeting with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) comes just days after the company asserted that booster shots would be needed within 12 months.
Last week, Pfizer and its German partner BioNTech announced that early clinical trials found the third dose, given six months after the second shot, generated levels of neutralizing antibodies five to 10 times higher than the initial two doses.
On Sunday, Dr Anthony Fauci didn’t rule out the possibility of a third dose but said it was too soon for the government to recommend another shot.
He said the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the FDA did the right thing last week by pushing back against Pfizer’s assertion with their statement that they did not view booster shots as necessary ‘at this time.’
However, Fauci expressed dismay at the number of Americans who are not yet fully vaccinated and supports the idea of mandates at the local level.
Pfizer is meeting with top U.S. health officials on Monday to discuss the company’s third dose of its COVID-19 vaccine after early data showed it generated levels of neutralizing antibodies five to 10 times higher than the initial two doses. Pictured: A view of a vial of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 coronavirus vaccine on a table, July 2021
Dr Anthony Fauci pushed back and said that with the data currently available ‘we do not need to give people a third shot’ but said he supports mandates at the federal level
Fauci said clinical studies and laboratory data have yet to fully bear out the need for a booster to the current two-shot Pfizer and Moderna vaccines or the one-shot Johnson & Johnson regimen.
‘Right now, given the data and the information we have, we do not need to give people a third shot,’ he told CNN’s State of the Union.
‘That doesn’t mean we stop there…There are studies being done now ongoing as we speak about looking at the feasibility about if and when we should be boosting people.’
He said it was quite possible in the coming months ‘as data evolves’ that the government may urge a booster based on such factors as age and underlying medical conditions.
‘Certainly it is entirely conceivable, maybe likely at some time, we will need a boost,” Fauci added.
Currently only about 48 percent of the U.S. population is fully vaccinated, according to data from the CDC.
Some parts of the country have far lower immunization rates, and in those places the Indian ‘Delta’ variant is surging.
When asked by host Jake Tapper if he supported vaccine mandates at places like businesses and schools, Fauci said he did – but stressed that the federal government would not mandate the shots.
‘I do believe at the local level there should be more mandates. There really should be,’ Fauci told State of the Union.
‘We’re talking about life-and-death situation. We’ve lost 600,000 Americans already, and we’re still losing more people. There’ve been four million deaths worldwide. This is serious business, so I am in favor of that.’
In a separate appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation, Fauci said it was inexplicable that some Americans are so resistant to getting a vaccine when scientific data show how effective it is in staving off COVID-19 infections and hospitalizations.
He said he was also dismayed by efforts to block making vaccinations more accessible, such as Biden’s suggestion of door-to-door outreach.
Arkansas Gov Asa Hutchinson agreed on Sunday that there is a vaccine resistance in Southern and rural states like his because ‘you have that more conservative approach, skepticism about government.’
He told ABC’s This Week that despite his efforts to boost vaccinations in his state, which is seeing rising infections, Hutchinson said ‘no one wants an agent knocking on a door.’
‘But we do want those that do not have access otherwise to make sure they know about it and having the information,’ Hutchinson continued.
‘Not everybody goes on the internet. Not everybody has that access. And so, how do you get information to them?’
The grassroots component of the federal vaccination campaign has been in operation since April, when supplies of shots began outpacing demand.
It was outlined and funded by Congress in the $1.9 trillion COVID-19 relief bill passed in March and overwhelmingly is carried out by local officials and private sector workers and volunteers.
Rep Adam Kinzinger (R-IL) blasted opposition to vaccination efforts from some GOP lawmakers as ‘absolute insanity’ on State of the Union on Sunday.
He said House Republican leader Kevin McCarthy of California and others in the party need to speak out against ‘these absolute clown politicians playing on your vaccine fears for their own selfish gain.’